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With the opening of The HTA Book Store, we've put together a glossary for common tailoring terms YSK

(YSK = You Should Know)

Glossary of Tailoring Terms
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Glossary of Common Tailoring Terms A.

  • Acromion Shoulder points at the shoulder ends

  • Alpaca Wool A fine soft, silky hair obtained from the alpaca llama

  • Alterations Tailor The only true master tailor on Savile Row with skilled abilities in re-cutting and fixing garments with fitting issues


  • Back Armhole Position of the armhole drafted at the back panel

  • Back Balance Centre back to chest line on the back panel

  • Back Pitch Position at which the hind arm seam of the sleeve connects with the back panel

  • Back Shoulder Seam The seam that lays atop of the shoulder on the back panel

  • Back Waist The line of which suppression is taken to create shape on the back

  • Bannockburn Tweed A woollen suiting for sportswear woven in the two twill from Cheviotwoollen yarns

  • Bar-tack Stitching to reinforce an area that will come under pressure from wear

  • Bar-tack Machine A device used to create a bar of stitches to strengthen an area under stress

  • Barathea Made from worsted yarns. Used for medium and heavyweight suits and dress fabrics. Commonly used for dinner jackets and officer mess dress

  • Baste Temporary stitching used to hold cloth in place during construction

  • Baster Usually a failed coat maker that makes coats up to a pocket baste fitting

  • Basting Cotton A thick brittle thread used to attach sections of the garment together before it is permanently sewn.

  • Beaver A fine woollen over-coating cloth with a dress face finish

  • Bedford Cord A texture in which the weave is arranged that a rounded cord effect is produced with sunken lines between running in the direction of the warp

  • Bench-made Made by a single individual on a board

  • Bespoke/Semi-bespoke Bench made garment made by hand or machine; made for a particular customer

  • Bias The diagonal grain of the fabric

  • Bird’s Nest Machine thread that is tangled and knotted at the start of a seam. Can also be used to describe tangled hand sewing thread

  • Blind Stitch A hooked needle which can penetrate cloth at various depths often used to pad lapels

  • Board Cloth A layer of melton cloth used for covering the surface of a wooden board when pressing garments

  • Bodkin A small handheld tool used to remove stitches resembling a small pointed pencil made from wood or bone

  • Bow-legged A leg figuration where the knees have a spacing of four fingers or more

  • Box Cloth A heavily milled woollen fabric with a dress face finish resembling felt

  • Break-line The line on which the lapel folds

  • Bridle A strip of fabric used to draw in the break-line to create chest shape

  • Broadcloth A light or medium weight woollen fabric made in the plain or simple twill weave

  • Button Stance Distance from the eye of the button and the edge

  • Button Sewer A machine to sew on all kinds of buttons

  • Buttonhole Machine Used to make key hole machine buttonhole to replace the hand sewn buttonhole


  • Camel Hair The soft downy hair from the haunches and under-part of the camel

  • Cashmere A fine soft, silky hair made from the soft undercoat of a Cashmere goat

  • Cavalry Twill A firmly woven fabric with a pronounced left to right twill

  • Centre Back Seam The seam that runs through the centre of the back on a garment

  • Centre Front Line (CFL) In line with the clavicle. The centre of the chest and waist

  • Chalk Sharpener A wooden box fitted with razor blades to give chalk a sharp edge

  • Chest Board A padded wooden surface used to press and shape a coats chest.

  • Chest Cut The dart used to create chest shape

  • Chest Line The horizontal line that runs across the nipple and blade position

  • Cheviot A coarse woollen fabric made from Cheviot sheep

  • Clapper/Banger A piece of wood names for the sound it makes when it hits the table, used in pressing for shaping. It is also used for drawing the steam from the wool and condensing it back to water

  • Closed-legged Also known as knock knees. Where the knees on a figure touch, but the ankles do not

  • Coat Maker A person who makes lounge coats

  • Corduroy Although this fabric has a ribbed pile surface when it is finished, it is woven as a flat fabric, and it is the floating, filling yarns which are cut to form the pile.

  • Corpulent Figure A figure whose waist is equal to or longer than the chest measurement with a chest size larger than 48”

  • Cotton Yarns are widely employed in woollens for the purpose of cheapening the fabric. They are used as warp in some nap overcoats, flannels and blazer cloths

  • Coverts Used for suiting and light weight over-coatings, mostly all wool, are woven in various structures, the commonest being rep, satin, gabardine and whipcord weaves

  • Crooken/Crookening Increasing the angle of the break-line

  • Crooked Cut A garment that is cut to close at the front edge

  • Cross-bred Wools obtained from cross-bred sheep

  • Cross Pocket Forepart flap pocket on hip

  • Custom An existing pattern altered for an individual

  • Cutter The person in charge of drafting patterns, selling suits, managing a team of garment makers and represents the company


  • Darts A means of creating suppression to create shape

  • Direct Measures Measurement taken directly off the body

  • Disproportionate Figure(s) Corpulent or portly figures. Can also be very tall or very short in height

  • Doeskin A natural fibre made from wool with the appearance and feel of a doe, a deer (a female deer). Generally produced in the West of England made from the best botany wool

  • Dog Leg Cut A neck cut used for figures with low and prominent pectorals

  • Donegal Tweed Manufactured in Donegal (DUN-e-GAWL), Ireland – a fabric of Cheviot quality woven either in the plain or the two and two twill

  • Double Breasted Wide overlapping fronts with no symmetrical columns of buttons

  • Drape A fold of cloth that facilitates movement or style

  • Draper An individual whose profession is to sell ready made suits

  • Drop The difference between the chest and waist or waist and seat

  • Duck Footed A figure whose feet join at the ankles and create a 90º angle


  • Ease Additional length added to one layer of cloth when joined together

  • Edge Board A wooden tool used the press open the edges of a garments

  • Extract Various kinds of wool and cotton fabrics from which the cotton has been extracted through chemical treatment


  • Faced Cloth A class of fabrics which includes most of the more luxurious woollen cloths such as doeskin, box cloth, etc.

  • Felt (Cloth) A fabric made up of compressed animal fibres such as wool and mixed with other synthetic fibres

  • Finisher Historically women who added the hand-stitch to a garment such as buttonholes

  • Flannel Fabric made in all wool, from woollen or worsted yarns, from wool and cotton union yarns, and from a cotton warp and a wool or a union weft

  • Flatbed Sewing Machine A straight stitch industrial sewing machine

  • Forearm Front sleeve seam

  • Foreparts Front panel of a coat, waistcoat, overcoat or tailcoat

  • Front Balance Neck point to chest line on the forepart

  • Front Chest Armhole to front edge

  • Front Shoulder Seam The seam that lays on top of the shoulder of the front panel

  • Full-front Chest A prominent pectoral that sits above the chest line

  • Fuse Using a hot iron and weight to bond a woven interfacing to the cloth

  • Fusing A woven interfacing used to strengthen cloth and add weight

  • Fuser A clamp with two heated plates that attaches fusible interlining to cloth


  • Gabardine A firmly woven fabric made in a variety of twill weaves both simple and complicated

  • Girth Prominence caused by weight gain (fat or muscle). Width measurement

  • Gorge Where the collar stand meets the foreparts

  • Governor The owner of a tailoring house; often misinterpreted as a master tailor

  • Grain Warp of the cloth


  • Half Chest Half the chest measure plus ease

  • Ham A cloth bag filled with sawdust shaped like a ham and used for pressing

  • Harris Tweeds Made from pure virgin wool produced in Scotland. Dyed and finished in the Outer Hebrides and hand-woven by the in-landers at their own homes in the islands of Lewis, Harris, Uist and Barra

  • Head Unit One-eighth of the total height of a figure

  • Hind Arm Backside sleeve seam

  • Hip Curve A curved ruler used to shape the pattern runs

  • Horse A rack on which garments are laid beside the sewing machine


  • Inlay Additional cloth left for future adjustment to size


  • Job A general term used to describe cut garments


  • Kipper A term used to describe finisher who usually travelled in pairs to prevent sexual harassment

  • Knock Knees Also known as closed legged. Where the knees on a figure touch but the ankles do not


  • L-Square Also know as the tailor’s square, used for making right angles on pattern. Also contains scale on its side which is used as a calculator for inches

  • Leaf Edge The edge of the collar between the notch and shoulder seam

  • Lounge Coat A formerly used term to describe a suit jacket


  • Machiner Also known as a pocket maker, whose main job is to sew the straight seams and pockets

  • Made-to-Measure Factory produced suits altered to fit variations of figure growth

  • Master An instructor to an apprentice

  • Master Tailor A tailor with skilled abilities in measuring, cutting, fitting and making [every aspect of a tailored suit]

  • Marcella Possibly a corruption of the word Marseilles. A stiff double-faced quilted white cotton with a plain weave ground on both sides of the fabric and with large embossed design

  • Melton A heavily milled woollen cloth in which the surface fibres have been raised and then cut until the required shortness and denseness of the nap has been obtained

  • Merino Wool Native of New Zealand, it is a soft crimped textured fibre and possesses good felting power

  • Mohair Wool produced from the Angora goat. It has an almost unbroken surface and is the most lustrous of the wool or hair class of fibres

  • Mungo Usually a shorter and finer fibre obtained from felted material


  • Nap The pile of cloth

  • Natural Waist Waist length from nape to waist

  • Neck Dart Dart through the lapel and break-line to accommodate chest girth

  • Neck Point Where the neck meets the shoulder

  • Needles (Sharp & Betweens) Needles are sold by numbers. The smaller the number, the larger the needle. They are larger in length but also thickness. The sharp needle is the longest length in its size and the between is same thickness but shorter length

  • Net Without seam allowance

  • Noils The short and sometimes defective wool fibres removed in the combing process

  • Notch Detail in the lapel that attaches to each side of the collar

  • [To] Nothing To zero

  • Normal Figure(s) A figure of regular proportions such as a 4" or 6" drop

  • Nylon Cloth or yarn made from synthetic materials which creates a softer handle to the cloth and adds greatly to its strength and wearing qualities


  • On Skin (Measurement) Taken close to the body

  • One Piece Front One panel front without side body. Includes darts

  • Open Leg Also known as bow legged. A leg figuration where the knees have a spacing of four fingers or more

  • Overlocker Also known as a serger, was introduce to replace the whip stitch used on a raw edge of cloth. This machine creates an interlocking loop stitch to prevent fraying


  • Pad Stitch A stitch to create shape and stiffness

  • Pattern Runs Edges and sew lines of patterns which help create the garments shape

  • Peaks A point on the edge of a lapel

  • Pick & Pick Many worsteds are described as pick and pick cloths. The term means that during the weaving process single picks of different colours were introduced into the fabric

  • Pick Stitch A subtle stitch in an edge to prevent swelling or rolling

  • Pigeon Toed A figure whose feet turn inwards. Often seen on a knock kneed figure

  • Pocket Belly Cut Wedge taken at pocket to create abdomen shape

  • Point-to-Point Measurement from shoulder end to shoulder end

  • Pork A garment which is scrapped due to fitting or making issues

  • Portly Figure A figure whose waist measurements are 2” – 4” smaller than the chest with a chest size between 42” – 46”

  • Presser A person responsible for giving the garment its final press before it is sent to the customer

  • Pressing Using an iron to shrink and stretch cloth

  • Prominence/Prominent Excess girth (see Girth)

  • Prickle Wheel A handle fitted with roller of sharp points used to trace off patterns



  • Rayon An artificial silk and is mixed with wool fibres before it is spun

  • Ready-to-Wear Pre-made garment to a set sizing chart

  • Rises Difference between inside leg length and side-seam

  • Roll Fold of the lapel

  • Roll Line Line on which the lapel folds over

  • Runs Shape of a seam


  • Sack Coat A coat absent of darts for shaping

  • Scale Proportionate system of drafting based on a girth measurement

  • Scye A term referring to the armhole

  • Seat Angle The angle of the seat seam

  • Seat Line Level of buttocks prominence

  • Serge The worsted serge is a well known cloth produced in the Two and Two (2/2) Twill. It is a reversible fabric, but the right side is usually smoother than the wrong side

  • Shears Scissors used by tailors with a blade designed to cut on a flat surface

  • Shoddy A term applied to many re-manufactured wool. Shoddy yarns are made from fibres of good lengths and are obtained from woven tweeds and knitted goods

  • Shoulder Angle Slope of the shoulder

  • Shrinking/Block Reducing the fullness in cloth using steam and heat

  • Side Body The side panel of a forepart (see to forepart)

  • Silk1 Net silk – made from long filaments reeled from the cocoon of the silk caterpillar and are used for obtaining stripes and check effects in the best class worsteds

  • Silk2 Spun silk – silks spun from all kinds of silk waste and are employed in the same way as net silk in suitings and dress fabrics

  • Silk Skein Loops of thread housed in a cardboard sleeve used for hand sewing

  • Skeleton Fitting A garment basted together without pockets

  • Skin Wools Obtained from the skins of sheep slaughtered for mutton purposes

  • Slashed Cut and spread open

  • Sleeve Board A padded plank of wood used for pressing sleeves

  • Sleeve Pitch The long of the sleeve

  • Stand The rise of the collar (fixed at 1¼”)

  • Straight Cut Garment cut to hang open

  • Straight-Legged A figure whose knees are spaced at two fingers where the ankles touch

  • Striker Lays patterns on cloth and cuts out the garments

  • Substitutes Re-manufactured wool and wool Noils used as a substitute for better class materials. Commonly found in Asian cloths

  • Suppression Reduction made to create shape

  • Sway Back Legs A figure whose hips rotate forward (with the knees and calves touching due to the legs hyperextending)


  • Tailor A person whose profession is to make, repair and alter garments such as coats, trousers, and waistcoats to fit a particular person

  • Tailor’s Board A wooden table on which the tailor works upon in their workshop

  • Tailor’s Chalk A square or rectangular chalk used for marking lines on clothing

  • Tailor’s Stick A wooden ruler fitted with brass ends

  • Thimble A hand sewing tool used by tailors to protect their fingers while sewing and is always worn on the middle finger

  • Topside Front panel of trousers

  • Trimmer Adds the linings, canvases, buttons, etc.

  • Trouser Maker A person whose occupation it is to make trousers

  • Twill A textile weave with diagonal parallel ribs

  • Two/Two Twill (2/2 Twill) Two warp threads crossed every two weft threads

  • Two Piece Front Forepart with side body

  • Twist By varying the twist or turns per 1” of yarn, the handle of a cloth may be changed. Warp yarns are given more twists than weft yarns to enable them to withstand the strain during the weaving process


  • Underarm Cut Dart below armhole to cross pocket

  • Undercutter A term used to describe a cutter apprentices

  • Underside The back panel of trousers


  • Velvet The word velvet applies more to the weave than to the fabric itself. It covers most warp-pile fabrics and is usually woven with a plain ground weave with filling yarns to form the pile

  • Vicuna/vicuña/vicugna A relative to the llama that lives in the alpine areas of the Andes Mountains. Vicuna and llama wools are very fine and soft and therefore are in demand for high-quality woollen and worsted goods. The soft fibres are very suitable for producing a napped surface


  • Wax A cake of beeswax used to coat thread and prevent the tread from snarling

  • Waistcoat Maker A person whose profession it is to make waistcoats

  • Warp The length of the cloth

  • Wedge Slashed open to create length

  • Weft The width of the cloth

  • Welt Pocket (Out-Breast Pocket) The handkerchief pocket on the front of a coat

  • Whipcords Worsted or woollen fabrics made in weaves which produce steep twill ribs formed by the warp and divided by the weft

  • Woollen The use of wool fibres which are quite short (less than 2”), as well as longer fibres

  • Worsted Wool The use of wool fibres which have been combed and are a certain length that is about 2” or more


  • Zig-Zag Machine A machine often used to make canvasses in production style suits

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